Spiritually-Minded

Romans 8:6   (KJV)  6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

As God’s children, we think godly thoughts. We enjoy life and peace now, and we’re looking forward to life and peace with our Father for eternity. We understand we still have choices. We believers don’t lose our free will even after surrendering the throne of Competitionour lives to our Lord Jesus. We choose the focus of our thoughts. We’re also very much aware of the huge implications and repercussions of our choices. Our heavenly Father doesn’t spoil His children.

I pray that this won’t be an issue of intrigue; my prayer rather is that it will be a thought to at least ponder on. Jesus has already borne the penalty of our sins on the cross. In fact He Who knew no sin was made sin for us. That Jesus has taken the death penalty for us is an absolute truth. What is this death then that results from being carnally minded? It’s easy to choose one and reject the other. In doing so, others explain away whatever they prefer to reject.

Forbid the thought that they would question the efficacy of the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice, so the trend is to deal with the death that results from carnal-mindedness. We’ve heard others interpret and teach that as death of a physical kind. And there’s no doubt, some sinful or even wrong choices can reap physical death as a consequence. But although there’s truth in it, it also misses the fact that physical death also comes even to the spiritually-minded people.

On the other hand, if the consequence of our godly thinking is life of the physical kind, what’s the necessity since we’re already physically alive? Unless it simply means continuation of our physical existence in our present condition, the other and I believe the more logical conclusion is that it also refers to life of spiritual kind. This becomes obvious when looking at the context of the passage. The entire chapter deals very much with our spirits. Without disrespect or preference of any denominational distinctive, we can safely conclude: 1. It’s absolutely and undeniably true that Jesus paid the sin-penalty of death; 2. It is also absolutely true that to be carnally minded—having our sinful nature control our mind—is or leads to death.

Whatever each of us believe; we may not all agree on one line of understanding, but the non-negotiable mandate or exhortation we can all agree and focus on is this: shun sinful nature that produces sinful thoughts, and yield to the precious Holy Spirit Who produces good, spiritual, right, and godly thoughts.

Strongly Deluded

2 Thessalonians 2:11   (KJV)   11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

For God to send strong delusion for people to believe lies sounds very “unGodlike.” But the statement isn’t a point blank no-context declaration.  The people God causes to be greatly deceived are those who refuse to love the truth.  They refuse the truth that saves.  2 Thessalonians 2.11 - Strongly DeludedWe may ask, why doesn’t God send them stronger convincing proofs and truths?  He already has, and He knows no greater revelation will convince them otherwise.

As sad as it may be, there are people we lovingly and sincerely pray for, but they’re just implacably set in their ways.  No amount of dialogue, conversations, love, reason, or evidence will make them change their minds.  They pursue their godless ways, influence others to doing the same, and even invent new ways to do evil.  In God’s patience, wisdom, justice, and gentleness, He lets them be, and turns them over to reprobate minds.

We won’t give up praying for everyone, no matter how hopeless, hardheaded, and hardhearted they may seem.  We don’t know if they’re unyielding; only God does.  We’ve often been surprised by God’s Spirit.  We’ve witnessed the most hardened criminals and even the most “hell-bent” terrorists come to their senses, humble themselves before God, and bow their knees to Him in full trust and surrender.  Most of us probably didn’t believe the first time we heard the Gospel.  We can’t really count the number of times Jesus through His Spirit knocked on the doors of our hearts before we finally opened up and invited Him to reside in us.

Praise God, He didn’t give up on us. Praise God, people didn’t stop praying for us.  We may have been considered cold, hardheaded, hardhearted, and inconvincible as well, but the “Hound of Heaven,” with His stubborn love, didn’t let go of us.  But here we are now—fruits of God’s love, patience, grace, and mercy, enjoying the blessings of those who met Him heart to heart, Spirit to spirit,” and soon, face to face.

Word, Power, and Character

1 Thessalonians 1:5   (KJV)   5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

Words are innately powerful.  Combine that with the Holy Spirit, the power becomes infinitely multiplied (really hard to come up with the appropriate description because each of them is already infinite in their power).  Most probably, the context refers to a 1 Thessalonians 1.5 - Word, Power, and Charactermanifested and/or demonstrated and/or visible power.  Imagine the effectiveness and the credibility of a ministry that possesses both.

And even more, we have genuine lives—messengers who are full of integrity.  This shows us why a ministry becomes unquestionably effective, efficient, and expansive. These three powerful factors working together as we serve each other and reach out to the needy and “hopeless” is much better than missing even one of them.  God loves us greatly as His children that we are lavishly graced with all of them.  God loves those who we serve greatly that He wants them to have undeniable proofs of His reality so that they would turn to Him and also live the best life anyone can ever live—the life of a believer.

 

Unequalled Life

Matthew 10:8   (KJV)   Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Miracles are real.  Believers are in agreement with this.  Does God still move in His people to be conduits of healing, cleansing, raising the dead, deliverance?  Before I Matthew 10.8 - Unequalled Lifeproceed with the answer, here’s a quick, loving, simple clarification:  my answer isn’t intended to negate or criticize our family in the Lord who believe differently;  I want to be a contributor to unity, not further division of the precious body of our one Lord.

I believe that the gifts of God go beyond the natural; they include supernatural works.  What an incomparably adventurous life we live as believers!  Who can equal to such tasks?  Our experiences are combinations of wonders and dangers; all of them orchestrated by the masterful hand of our Almighty Father, working everything for the good of those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

We are channels of miracles and the supernatural; we are also objects of scorn, hatred, threats, persecution, and even death.  We are loved by some, but we’re also rejected by others.  Our provision is guaranteed—through usual means, or unusual means.  We’re sheep among wolves;  we conduct ourselves with caution, wisdom, and gentleness.  When “dragged” to court, we end up in the presence of rulers and kings.  We may not have the knowledge of lawyers, but the Holy Spirit Himself gives us the very words to say.  The eyes of those who consider us as their enemies are constantly on us, waiting for opportunities to do us harm, but we don’t fear; we know that our Father, Whose eyes are on the sparrows, is constantly, lovingly, and protectively watching over us—His children.

Gifted for Service

1 Corinthians 12:7    (KJV)   But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Every person is a recipient of many gifts from God. No person can live without them. God is the Source of every good and perfect gift. He immensely enjoys blessing us. He’s a very generous God. Believers and unbelievers alike enjoy the graciousness of our God. All of us 1 Corinthians 12.7 - Gifted to Serveenjoy air, sunshine, and rain just the same. Of course, there are special callings, giftings, and endowments that are for believers only. We are definitely and humbly grateful to Him.

God’s spiritual gifts are priceless. They’re gifts; we don’t work for them. He chooses which gifts to give to whom. They are very helpful for our personal growth and ministry. But more than that, we help, encourage, and strengthen each other. Why is it important to be reminded of this? It’s because others easily get carried away and lured by personal interests. This is true even with believers.

We delight in serving the Lord and serving our brothers and sisters. His gifts allow us to go beyond the limitations of the natural. This is so good because there are many problem situations that natural resources can’t solve. We continue to look to our Father; always worshiping Him and giving Him the glory because without Him, we’re nothing. And one expression of our gratefulness is treasuring His gifts and using them, especially in serving His children with all He’s blessed us with.

The Holy Spirit in Us

1 Corinthians 2:12   (KJV)   12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Awesome! God has given us His Holy Spirit; it’s through Him that we get to understand wonderful truths that otherwise would have been impossible for us to comprehend. We’ve received bountiful blessings from God; the best of which is Himself: Father, Son, and the 1 Cor. 2.12 - Holy Spirit in UsHoly Spirit. This is a wonderful mystery we pray the world receives as well. Imagine having in us the fullness of the Godhead.

Is there anything more wonderful than that? It baffles reason and imagination. How can finite contain the infinite? How can the Holy Spirit be in me wholly and be in every other true genuine follower all at the same time? It’s incalculable and impossible in terms of human reasoning, but nothing is impossible with God. He is imminent and transcendent; He is a part of history and beyond history; He is fully in us, but way bigger than us.

We live in Him and persevere in Him—even through the most alluring temptations, hardest trials, and most horrible persecutions; there’s no sense turning back. He’s the highest cause and reason for living. Is there anyone in heaven greater than Him? Is there anyone on earth we can compare with Him? In Him, we have everything we need. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined the beautiful life we enjoy now and the glorious life we will enjoy in eternity—in the presence of Him Who loves us most and the source of all wisdom and knowledge—even the out of this world kind.

Crucified Flesh

Galatians 5:24   (KJV)   24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Yes, our inner struggle against sin is constant. This is true even among the saintliest of saints among us. This is not in any way an attempt to undermine our brothers and sisters in Christ who believe in sinless perfection, that we can attain total sanctification while galatians-5-24-crucified-fleshwe’re still here on earth. Bless their hearts if this is a real experience to them. As for me, and in my humble personal understanding of God’s Word regarding this issue, our struggle will ultimately end when this flesh is completely done away with.

And praise God; that day will come. But we don’t have to wait for that day for us to live in victory. There will be battles against our flesh, but these battles can turn to one victory after another. This is possible because true, genuine believers—followers of Jesus—we, have nailed our flesh and its affections or passions, lusts and ungodly desires to the cross. We render our flesh dead. We follow the Spirit’s leading.

When we allow God’s precious Holy Spirit to take lead, and we follow His guidance, we avoid doing the detestable dictates of our sinful nature. Evil desires become abhorrent to us. As we continue to grow in the Lord, as we continue to taste and see His goodness, we lose our appetite towards ungodliness. We experience the beauty and wonder of a life of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. What’s better than that?